1178 Broadway -- Burlingame, California 94010
Telephone 650-343-0182



HOURS:
Monday 9-7 Tuesday-Saturday 9-7:30
Closed Sundays.




Inquire About A Wine--Gerald at Weimax.com


Please check our Home-Page for Shipping Info.


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Sporadic Emails

For Email Marketing you can trust

 

SUSSUDIO ???

FLORAL ALBARIÑO

SARDINIAN WHITE

BOONTLING PINOT

NEW SONOMA RHONE-ISTE OF NOTE

REMARKABLE PINOT

LAKE COUNTY ZIN

STELLAR NEW ARTISAN RIOJA

OSTATU BLANCO

GREAT GRUNER VELTLITER $13.99

NICE LITTLE PINOT $9.99

STONY RIESLING

BLAYE ME!
$14.99

NEW MADIRAN
$14.99

DRY MUSCAT
FROM AOSTA

I'M OKAY
YOUR RUCHE

"TEXTBOOK" CHARDONNAY

RIOJA BARGAIN

PRETTY PETTY SARAH

FORAGING FOR PINOT NOIR

MARSELAN...A HYBRID OF CABERNET & GRENACHE

CLASSIC MACON $13.99

CRISP MOUNTAIN WHITE

BEST BUYS
Good Wines for $5-$15

CASTELÃO BARGAIN

STELLAR BLAUFRÄNKISCH ESTATE

CAMPANIAN DELIGHTS

COLORFUL ZIN

23 TO BUY 25 REASONS

FIE, FY, FO, FUM

ROMORANTIN

DOURO DYNAMITE

PORTUGUESE RED BARGAIN

BARGAIN ZWEIGELT

GRAND SYRAH FROM AN UNUSUAL PLACE

SERIOUSLY FINE KIWI SAUVIGNON BLANC
$21.99

SPICY AGLIANICO

WHITE BURGUNDIES OF NOTE

MARSANNE BARGAIN

CHERRYISH TUSCAN RED SALE $10.99

2013 TAVEL ROSE

DRY NEW YORK RIESLING

PROSECCO FOR ADULTS

UNUSUAL ROSSO FROM THE COLLINE NOVARESI

BILLIONAIRE'S WINES UNDER $30!

BARGAIN WHITE BORDEAUX

PIERCINGLY GOOD
WHITE

TOP OF THE LINE
CREMANT

ANOTHER RULLY GOOD WHITE

UNIQUE BUBBLY DESSERT WINE

RESERVE QUALITY RIOJA

LA INA SHERRY

BARBERA OF NOTE

LETTUCE SHOW YOU A GOOD PINOT NOIR

NEW, ARTISAN PINOT NOIR

SUPER VERONESE SALE $12.99

PIEMONTE'S GRAND VIN BIANCO?

WHITE BURGUNDY OF NOTE

GAMAY FROM THE FRENCH ALPS

DELICIOUS, FRESH ROSÉS

GREAT GRUNER VELTLINER

GOOD ELEVEN-BUCK CHIANTI

FLOWERY, CURIOUS RED

OLD FAVORITE KIWI SAUVIGNON IS BACK

OLD PATCH RED
ZIN BLEND

MONCUIT'S GRAND CRU CHAMPAGNE

HONEYED MUSCAT

SPICY 
GEWÜRZTRAMINER

Napa Valley Grape Info
2002

2010

Amazing FRENCH CIDERS

FIZZY LAMBRUSCO

 

 

HOME PAGE

AMERICAN WINES

CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS

RHONE WANNABEES

ZINFANDELS

SAUVIGNON BLANCS

MERLOTS

OREGON WINES

CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS

CALIFORNIA CABERNETS

RIESLING & GEWURZ

WASHINGTON STATE

CANADIAN WINES

Adventuresome  Wines

ROSÉS !!

FRENCH WINES
ALSACE
BEAUJOLAIS
RED BORDEAUX
WHITE BORDEAUX
RED BURGUNDY
WHITE BURGUNDY
RHÔNE VALLEY
THE FRENCH ALPS
SOUTH OF FRANCE

LOIRE


CHAMPAGNE

 

ITALIAN WINES
PIEMONTE

VALLE D'AOSTA

NORTHERN ITALY

CENTRAL ITALIA

TUSCANY

SOUTHERN ITALIA


SPANISH WINES
Spanish Sherry
& Other Delights


PORTUGUESE WINES

SWISS WINES

GERMAN WINES

AUSTRIAN WINES

ARGENTINA

CHILE

AUSTRALIA

NEW ZEALAND

SOUTH AFRICA

OBSCURE WINES

DESSERT WINES

CHAMPAGNES

HALF-BOTTLES

SPIRITS

CIDERS

BEER
Even Real "Bud"!

OTHER STUFF

WINE TASTING

WHAT'S OPEN


UPCOMING TASTINGS

TASTING RESULTS
  
NEWSLETTER

SHIPPING INFO

ETC.

 

TASTING REPORTS

HOW TO ORGANIZE A BLIND-TASTING

BLIND TASTING ARCHIVE

MY 2013 EURO WINE ADVENTURE BOOK

CHATEAU MONTELENA
VERTICAL


ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2007

ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2008

SCHRAMSBERG vs THE FAMOUS FRENCH

German Wine "Master Class" Tasting

S & M FOR WINETASTING GEEKS

TEAR-WAH
TASTING

2014 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2013 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2012 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2011 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2010 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2009 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2008 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
Periodically Amazing

2007 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
The Nose Knows!

2006 SF INTERNATIONAL  WINE COMPETITION.
SPIT HAPPENS

2005 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION.

2004 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING

The 2003 SF WINE COMPETITION

2002 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING 

A Vertical Tasting of Nalle Zinfandels

 

ETC.

RANTINGS & RAVINGS

WINE ROADS of EUROPE

Food/Wine/Friends
A Photo Gallery

MASTER OF WINE ESSAY TOPICS

Old Bottles: A TASTE OF HISTORY

Bob's Venetian Diary

Bob's Paris Notes Updated Spring 2007

Wine Writer's Confession

NEW "CULT" WINERY

Some Restaurant Reviews

HOW TO SELL WINE.
Info For Brokers and
Wine Distributors.

HOW TO HOLD A TRADE TASTING

$100,000 WORTH OF WINE MARKETING ADVICE:  FREE!
Mainly for Foreign Vintners

MOLDY CORKS

Study Reveals Experts Taste More Than What's In the Glass!

OKANAGAN VALLEY WINE TOUR-2010

BRIAN'S 2005 SUMMER VACATION WITH UNCLE

Gerald's Tour de France 2006

GERALD'S TOUR DE FRANCE 2008

A TOUR OF PORTUGAL-2009

HOW TO SPEAK BETTER ITALIAN

PONZI'S 40th
ANNIVERSARY

ROOSEVELT'S 2005 CHILI COOK-OFF

ROOSEVELT'S 2007 CHILI COOK-OFF

Grape Goddess

Ross Bruce Birthday

ALESSIA DALL'U

CCIV

FAQs

BURLINGAME

Links

FRANCE'S LOIRE VALLEY

You'll find an interesting range of wines here in the Loire Valley and you'll need to know what grapes grows in which appellation.  The wines, like those of Alsace in France, tend to be varietal wines.  Unlike Alsace, however, Loire Valley wines take their geographical names or appellations.  So, while in Alsace a wine is labeled Riesling, for example, here the wines made of Sauvignon Blanc, with only a rare exception or two, rarely are noted on the label as being made of Sauvignon Blanc. 

In an effort to clarify the issue for you, here's a "cheat sheet":

SAUVIGNON BLANC Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, Menetou-Salon, Reuilly, Coteaux du Giennois, Touraine (usually these have the name "Sauvignon" on the label)
CHENIN BLANC (also known as Pineau de la Loire) Vouvray, Jasnières, Montlouis, Quarts de Chaume, Bonnezeaux, Coteaux du Layon, Savennières. Anjou, Coteaux de Saumur
PINOT NOIR Sancerre, Menetou-Salon Rouge
CABERNET FRANC (also known locally as "Breton") Bourgueil, Chinon, Champigny, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Anjou
MUSCADET (not Muscat!) (Also known as "Melon de Bourgogne") Muscadet, Muscadet des Coteaux de la Loire, Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine Muscadet Cotes de Grand Lieu
OTHER MINOR VARIETIES Reds: Grolleau (often used for rose wines), Gamay Noir, Pinot Meunier, Cot (same as Malbec),  Pineau d'Aunis (also known as Chenin Noir)

Whites: Gros Plant, Folle Blanche, Tressallier,  Chardonnay (vintners seem to have increasing interest with this), Pinot Gris (called Malvoisie), Fie (said to be a Sauvignon mutation), Romorantin.

Some of our Loire Valley Selections:

DIDIER DAGUENEAU ("Mister Pouilly-Fumé")
I'd seen articles written about Monsieur Dagueneau, calling  him the "bad boy" of the Loire.  The "Enfant Terrible."  I'm not sure he warranted that designation, but he was an outspoken fellow and one who said what he thought rather than what some people want to hear.

It was a sad day when we learned Didier had died.  The plane he was piloting in France's Dordogne region in September of 2008 stalled and crashed. 


Located off the main drag in Saint-Andelain, Dagueneau maintains a low profile on one hand and a high profile on the other.  No signs are posted to give visitors a clue as to the location of this domaine, for example.  On the other hand, this fellow was a vociferous critic of lackluster viticulture and winemaking.  And he was driven to make outstanding wines and do so according to bio-dynamic farming methods.  

Today the winery is run by Didier's kids from his first wife.  Son Benjamin and daughter Charlotte have had the reigns thrust into their hands and time will tell if they're capable stewards of this benchmark domaine.


Dagueneau started winemaking in the early 1980s.  His father had (and still has) a winery.  Dagueneau's uncle also makes wine.  But Didier's "training" had been as a competitive motocross rider.  He was also famous in dog sledding circles.  Apparently he didn't learn much winemaking from the family.  He didn't want to learn that type of winemaking!  Dagueneau, ever competitive, wanted to make THE BEST and dad and Uncle Serge just didn't cut it.  

The estate comprises about eleven hectares, or so.  Organic farming practices.  Low yields.  Dagueneau was deeply involved in all phases of the process.  He didn't harvest the fruit when sugar levels reach a certain point, for example.  He'd taste the grapes and decide when to pick as he tasted "ripe" flavors.  Try an average bottle of Pouilly-Fumé and you'll often encounter vegetal, unripe flavors and thin, meager wines.  That's not what Dagueneau is about.  



The winery was built in 1989.  It's pristinely clean.  Dagueneau insisted we taste, on a visit some years ago, before having a look at the vineyards, since he didn't want us tracking "terroir" into the clean cellar.  Stainless steel.  Oak barrels.  The usual winery equipment. 

Curiously the barrels, from a variety of coopers, have the letters "DSLS" painted on most of them.  "DIEU SEUL LE SAIT." Daguenau explained.  "God only knows what the type of oak is." Dagueneau tells us.  "The barrel builders sell various types of wood, Alliers, Tronçais, Limousin, Nevers...but God only knows for sure what sort of wood a particular barrel really is!"




If you have the idea Didier was an iconoclast, I'd say you're correct.  He had purchased a piece of land in the Sancerre village of Chavignol, a town famous for the little "Crottin de Chavignol" goat cheese.  However, it's been quite a while since anyone in Chavignol has had goats, let alone made cheese there!  One day there will be Dagueneau's Crottin de Chavignol and it will be from Chavignol!    And producers of Sancerre were a bit nervous upon learning Didier had purchased a parcel of vines in their neighborhood and was intent upon producing wine of their vaunted appellation.



In his vast circle of winemaker friends, Dagueneau hung out with a tough audience.  He'd, apparently, been chided for "only" making white wines.  Colleagues contend that "it's easy to make white wines."  So, Dagueneau planted some Pinot Noir, hardly the easiest red wine to produce.  

We were offered a sample, poured "blind."  I told Dagueneau it was someone's red Burgundy and a really good one.  Didier challenged everyone and so to lead me astray he claimed it was made by a certain California vintner.

"Get out of town!" I screamed.  (This certainly was a challenge to Monsieur Dagueneau's skills with the English language!)  That fellow doesn't make Pinot Noir of this caliber, so I couldn't imagine it was a Californian wine.

Finally he revealed that the wine in question was, in fact,  his own Pinot Noir.  Now he can offer his colleagues a glass of amazingly fine "Burgundy" that comes from well outside the appellation (of the Côte d'Or).   I understand he also planted some Riesling...why not attempt to produce some "house wine" from that remarkably noble grape for home consumption?

The Pouilly-Fumé wines are the work of a perfectionist.  
PF = Pouilly-Fumé, Perfectly Farmed and Pretty Fantastic.  

"En Chailloux" is the basic bottling is the main production of Pouilly-Fumé.  Part of the final blend is fermented in oak, part in stainless steel.  Wood is not a major component of the wine, however.
"Pur Sang" is a wonderful wine which is fermented in wood.  There is a bit of toastiness to the wine, but the oak only adds complexity;  it does not dominate!

"Buisson Renard" is also fermented in barrel, but I found the oak to be less intense than in the Pur Sang.  Buisson Renard use to be called "Buisson Menard" until a prominent French wine writer misspelled the name in a well read publication.  To nail the critic, Dagueneau changed the name of the wine to the misspelling!

"Silex" is regarded as the top bottling, coming from old vines in various parcels.  


"Asteroide" is the collector's item of the bunch, costing hundreds of dollars for a half-liter bottle.  If your lotto ticket is a winner, treat yourself to a bottle of this. 

Otherwise, try the Pur Sang.  (As we drove around the vineyards, Dagueneau showed us a parcel of vineyard that he had just acquired in an exchange with another vigneron.  He said it would take a few years of organic farming to get the vineyard into the proper condition.  

I told Dagueneau that if he acquired a vineyard that was nearly impossible to 'fix," a real pain in the ass, he could offer a companion, single vineyard bottling to Asteroide:  "Hemorrhoid."

The 2007 Blanc Fume is an exceptional introduction to Dagueneau's world of Sauvignon Blanc.  The wine is rather low in alcohol, high in terms of varietal character and displaying "terroir" (chalky and minerally notes).

The Pur Sang wine has beautifully intense Sauvignon fruit and a nice toasty oak adding spice and complexity.  

We tasted (October 2013) some current releases from the winery and did not find the wines to warrant the hugely premium price tags which these carry...The Pur Sang struck me as a mere shadow of its former self, so we'll be sitting on the sidelines in the future, I suspect.


Currently in stock: 
2007 "Pur Sang" $95.99 (a few bottles remain)
2008 "Pur Sang" $89.99 (a few bottles remain)
2007 Blanc Fume  (List $70) SALE $59.99

 

 

 






SYLVAIN BAILLY (Domaine Croix Saint Ursin)
 
This domaine is run by Jacques Bailly and his wife Marie-Helene.  They're located in the town of Bu, though vineyard holdings are scattered around the appellation.

Bailly has about 11 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc in Sancerre, some 3.5 hectares of Pinot Noir and about 5 hectares of Sauvignon in Quincy.  

The Sancerre comes from differing soils.  Jacques explained that about 70% of their vineyards are in limestone, the balance in a soil that's a combination of clay and limestone.  

Bailly's is our most popular Sancerre, his wine having a nice combination of minerality and citrus.  Oak is not part of the program here.  Various sites are picked at differing levels of sugar, so Bailly's fermentation tanks of Sancerre vary in character until he blends them.  A "prestige" bottling is produced in riper vintages and a part of that wine is wood aged.  Even so, it's hard to beat the "Les Terroirs" bottling.

 
Red Sancerre is made, of course, of Pinot Noir.  A French woman picked up a bottle of Bailly's red wine, not knowing this and commented, "There must be something wrong with your Sancerre...it's awfully dark in color."
"It's a red wine." we told her.
"Oh!"

    


   


       
Currently available:  2012 Sancerre "Terroirs" (list $24) SALE  $19.99 (750ml)





DOMAINE DE LA PÉPIÈRE  (Marc Ollivier)
We've been enchanted by this artisan's soulful Muscadet for a number of years...his wine tastes deeper and more interesting than most of the wines from the western part of the Loire Valley.

Ollivier's grandfather had vineyards and his father and uncle took over.  But when they had children, they realized the estate was not sufficiently large to support two growing families, so Marc's father left the property.

Marc was studying for some sort of scientific career when he realized he'd end up teaching and cooped up in a school environment.  He enrolled in a wine course in Burgundy and then was bitten by the wine bug.

In the 1980s he began making wine at the Domaine de la Pépière and farming 7 hectares of vines.  In 1988 he took over the Clos des Briords vineyard and Clos Cormerais in 1992.  

Much of his education in winemaking has come through his own experiences and experiments in viticulture and vinification.  He saw that his wines fermented with native yeasts smelled and tasted more complex than wines made with a selected yeast culture.  He's found his wines are more complex with lower levels of SO2 and so he doesn't use much sulfur these days.

He farms organically or sustainably, but is not married to the idea of strict biodynamic grape growing.  
And yet he doesn't make claims about making "natural" wines.  His techniques are his own and he makes wine for his own enjoyment and if there's an audience for these, so much the better.
 
We have a 2010 Muscadet from Ollivier and it's called "Les Gras Moutons."  This nicely showcases the stony aspects of Muscadet, having hints of a green apple sort of fruit with the rocky, flinty, minerally character.  

Oysters, of course, pair handsomely with this.  It also has matched with my anchovy-enhanced, lemony, garlicky salad dressing with some poached prawns on top of a bed of arugula and baby lettuce...but seafood is best here.

Currently in stock:  2010 DOMAINE DE LA PÉPIÈRE "Les Gras Moutons" $18.99




DOMAINE DES BAUMARD
A family-run producer specializing in Chenin Blanc wines from Savennières and Quarts-de-Chaume.  They work to retain the fresh fruit aromas of Chenin Blanc, picking the grapes into small bins and vinifying at low temps in stainless steel.   Their Quarts-de-Chaume can mature over several decades (think of what California Chenin Blanc is still good after two or three years)!   We've found their Anjou Rouge, made of Cabernet Franc, to be a very charming and price-worthy wine.
Their Coteaux du Layon "Carte d'Or" is a magnificent sweet Chenin Blanc, while their special, single-vineyard wine of "Clos de Sainte Catherine" is even more honeyed and rich.  This is from the 1998 vintage.

Currently available:  
2008 Quarts de Chaume (375ml)  $44.99
2005 Clos des Papillon $34.99
1998 Coteaux du Layon "Clos de Sainte Catherine" $32.99




 


DOMAINE PATRICK COULBOIS
Gerald Coulbois had been a grower in the Pouilly-Fumé village of Saint Andelain and now his son Patrick runs this small domaine.  Patrick's wife also comes from a wine growing family, so together they have about 8.7 hectares of vines, all bit a half a hectare being Sauvignon.  The other variety Coulbois cultivates is Chasselas which "dad" used to make into sparkling wine.

The domaine started back in 1974 and today Coulbois produces about 30,000 bottles from vines cultivated in three soil types: Silex (flint), chalk and Clay.  

The flinty soil gives a real minerally character to the wine and that's why we like this fellow's Pouilly-Fumé. The wine is labeled "Les Cocques" as it comes from Silex soil.   It's got a wonderful fragrance of stones and grapefruit, with a touch of a floral note.  Bone dry and crisp, this is a great match with seafood!  I almost sense a 'salty' quality to the wine, too.
 
 

Currently in stock:  2012 Pouilly-Fumé "Les Cocques"  $19.99



 


Patrick Coulbois opening a bottle
of his Pouilly-Fumé.

 

 

 

DOMAINE DAULNY
Etienne Daulny owns a small domaine in a sub-region of Sancerre called "Chaudenay."  You'll be near the village of Verdigny if you're looking for it on a map.

Daulny is an old-timer who's been growing grapes and making good Sancerre for several decades.  The estate comprises about 15 hectares and he makes a basic Sancerre, an "old vines" bottling from his prized "Clos de Chaudenay" vineyard and a nice little Sancerre Rouge.

 

Our friend who imports the Daulny wines allowed me to accompany him on an excursion a number of years ago.  We had not purchased any of the first vintages he imported from this domaine.  We tasted through the cellar one cold winter afternoon and I found the basic Sancerre to be "correct," but still lacking excitement.

We'd tasted a sample of the Clos de Chaudenay and I suggested that, perhaps, a bit of this tank blended into the basic bottling might make for a more interesting wine.  I was pleasantly surprised when Daulny put together a few blends incorporating various percentages of the Clos de Chaudenay wine.  Voilà, as they say.  We ended up choosing one of them and this batch was then shipped to the Bay Area.

 



I've returned to visit on several other trips with the importer and now we routinely work to find the blend which works best.  And, I'm delighted to report, the recent vintages we have had in the shop have been very popular with our customers.  
But I've created a monster:  our importer friend now works with a number of producers in his portfolio and likes to assemble his own, personal blend...


The 2012 has just hit the west coast.  It's a deliciously dry, crisp, lip-smacking, tart, dry Sauvignon Blanc.  We like the citrusy notes and the minerality of this wine.  It's fresh and bone dry.  No oak.   

Daulny also makes a bit of Rosé and Sancerre Rouge.  We don't buy either, presently, but I will say the red wine has been pretty good.  On a recent visit, I teased Etienne about his "Domaine de la Romanee-Daulny."  He appreciated the good natured ribbing.

I brought a bottle of the 2007 Chaudenay to an Italian vintner who makes good Sauvignon...he was very impressed and kept muttering Italian expressions/expletives as he drank the wine, preferring it that night, to his own.

Currently in stock:  DAULNY 2012 SANCERRE BLANC $19.99 
 


Etienne in March of 2011








CAVE DE SAUMUR

The Saumur appellation is a bit obscure for most wine drinkers.  Hard core Loire Valley fans know it, but the average bear is in the dark on these wines.

More prominent are the Chenin Blanc wines of Vouvray and the Cabernet Franc wines of Chinon.

This can be good news for those of us who appreciate wines which fall into the category of "affordable."

There's a very good grower's co-operative whose wines arrive here at sensible price levels.

We've had their wines from time to time and, with the 2008 vintage, now's the time!

They make a wine from a single vineyard site south of Saumur (and the winery is also south of the town of Saumur and south of the river) near Meron.  "Les Pouches" is the name of the vineyard.

If you have a ten dollar bill in your pocket and a taste for Chenin Blanc grown in chalky soils, this is a terrific wine.  The flint and limestone contribute to the character of this non-oaked white wine which is vinified to total dryness.  There's a hint of peach and citrus to this wine...but just hints.  You might even sense a chalky element in this wine...we do.  It's a lovely little cocktail white as it sets up the palate for a bigger or more complex wine with the main course.  This is not terribly fancy...it's just a good, dry, crisp white wine.

This is said to pair well with goat cheeses and Asian cuisine.   The producers claim it pairs handsomely with seafood in a cream sauce, but we find it a bit austere for that arena.   
We went for a second bottle..."Some more Saumur?"   

Currently in stock:  2012 Saumur "Les Pouches"  $9.99



 

OISLY & THESEE



This producer is a grower's cooperative...and an interesting one at that!

They've been around since the 1960s and have long sold wine in bottle, a relative novelty in those days when much wine was sold in bulk.

We understand they had 55 growers as members in the 1990s, but today it's a much smaller enterprise as a lot of the younger generation of owner families have decided they want to make and bottle their own wines.  Probably some of this was brought about by the co-op preferring to ferment each grower's fruit separately to see what they had...then they'd make their master blend in order to sell the wines.  

Of course, most growers are going to find their wine superior to the bottling which hit the market...

Anyway, we've tasted the little Sauvignon Blanc from this winery for many years and they always turn out a clean, sound wine.  

We were a bit surprised to find the 2012 tasting somewhat brighter and slightly more intense than we'd found in the past.  The wine remains attractively priced and a nicely tangy, bone dry, crisp Loire Valley, entry level Sauvignon Blanc.

If you're preparing some sort of seafood and you like a squeeze of lemon, you'll probably find this wine to be worth a try.  And at its modest price, even if it's not your cup of Sauvignon Blanc, you've been bruised for a mere eight bucks.
 

Currently in stock:  2012 OISLY & THESEE SAUVIGNON BLANC  $7.99

ERIC CHEVALIER    Domaine de L'Aujardiere

The wines of the western part of France's Loire Valley might be more popular if consumers didn't confuse Muscadet with Muscat.  But the average bear in America sees the name Muscadet on a wine label and immediately associates the wine with bottlings that are often hugely perfumed and sweet.

Eric Chevalier grew up on a little wine producing farm and worked for a negociant firm in Touraine for about a decade before heading back home and taking the reins of the family domaine.  He had been working at the Laroche winery in Chablis where he was exposed to the Chardonnay grape.  Similarly, he learned about red wine in the Anjou appellation of the Loire.

His father was ready to retire and Eric wasn't looking to run the winery, so the vineyards were in danger of being ripped out or sold, perhaps.  But the planets and stars came to some particular alignment and Chevalier decided to move back home and handle the vineyards, along with making some wines.

The wine we're crazy about from Monsieur Chevalier is not his lovely Muscadet, but the wine made from a curious variety known in the Loire as "Fie Gris."  This is a relative of Sauvignon Blanc, though the skin of the grape actually ripens to a lightly colored hue, appearing to the uninitiated as though it might be a red grape.  It's said to have been fairly widely planted in the 1800s, but when the vineyards were destroyed by the Phylloxera root louse, growers replanted with Sauvignon Blanc as it was said to yield a larger crop.   So much for Sauvignon Gris or "Fie Gris" if you're in the western Loire.

We see Sauvignon Gris in Bordeaux and France's Southwest and there's a bit in Chile, too.  

Chevalier makes a really nice dry white from Fie Gris...dry, as you might expect.  There's an interesting spice tone here with hints of a vegetal or herbal note.  This is marvelous as a cocktail white and it pairs quite nicely with seafood (shrimp marinated in olive oil, thyme, garlic and a bit of chili pepper and then broiled for a few minutes...)...
 

Currently in stock:  2010 ERIC CHEVALIER "FIE GRIS"  $21.99

DOMAINE DU CLOSEL (Chateau des Vaults)

This property was originally called the Chateau des Vaults, but it's been known as the Domaine du Closel for maybe half a century.

The property was owned by the Marquis de Las Cases around the time of the Phylloxera scourge and Bernard de Closel married into the family.

It's situated at the south-eastern part of the town of Savennières.  Monsieur de Closel was, in fact, even the mayor of the village...imagine in these days of term limits, this guy was elected to the post in 1919 and remained the Mayor until 1956.  It was under his leadership that Savennières got its appellation (1952).  De Closel's niece took over the property in 1962 and now the domaine has passed on to her daughter, Evelyne de Jessey-Pontbriand.   It was Evelyne's mom, Michele, who renamed the estate as Domaine du Closel, wanting to honor her Uncle Bernie.

Today there are nearly 17 hectares of vineyards.  They've been farming organically for a number of years and are certified by Ecocert.  In addition to Chenin Blanc, they make some Anjou wines of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  And today Evelyne heads the Savennières' grower's group, so she's got a leadership role in the region.

We are fans of her Clos du Papillon bottling.  The 2007 is in the shop presently.  If you're interested to experience a wine made of Chenin Blanc which has finesse and complexity, and you're able to appreciate a subtle wine, you might try one of these.  We find notes reminiscent of white flowers, quince, a suggestion of honey or beeswax and some nicely stony, minerally tones.  The wine is dry and showing well now, but it can be cellared for many more years, too.   Got lobster?

Currently in stock:  2007 DOMAINE DU CLOSEL SAVENNIÈRES "Clos du Papillon"  $34.99

DOMAINE HUET

This is a leading light in Vouvray and many connoisseurs view the Huet domaine as the reference point for the appellation.  

Victor Huet started this estate in 1928, buying Le Haut Lieu property from the Masse family.  Huet and his wife Anna Constance had a son, Gaston, who studied agronomy before being drafted into the military as World War II started.  The property was devastated during the war and Gaston Huet had been in a Prisoner of War Camp from 1940 until the war ended.  

He's often cited in an interesting book called WINE & WAR by Don & Petie Kladstrup.  It's a fascinating book featuring interviews with many wine industry figures whose lives were impacted by the Nazi invasion.

When Huet returned home, he found the vineyards in a sad state, not having been pruned or plowed (the Nazis took all the horses for one thing).  He set about righting the ship and in 1947, one of the greatest vintages on record for Vouvray, Huet was elected as Mayor of the town, a post he held until 1989 (coincidentally, another Hall of Fame vintage for Vouvray!).

Over the years, Le Haut Lieu grew to a 9 hectare site.   Le Clos du Bourg became a stable-mate in 1953 and this is now a 6 hectare parcel.  Also part of the domaine is Le Mont and this is an 8 hectare vineyard.  

Huet had two daughters and a son.  The son, Jean, didn't get along well with his old man and took off for greener pastures.  We understand he became a photographer.  

The youngest daughter, Marie-Francoise, married the son of a local butcher.  This fellow, Noel Pinguet, was not a wine drinker and he was involved with an insurance company in Paris.  In 1971 the newlyweds moved back to Vouvray and Pinguet got his first taste of winemaking, learning from old man Huet.  He never had any formal training, but when you're learning from a fellow who has a Black Belt in Vouvray, perhaps you don't need to sit in a classroom listening to enology professors droning on about winemaking theories.

Pinguet, then, assumed control of the winemaking chores in 1976 and he continued the fine tradition of the Great Gaston.  Huet passed away in 2002 and the Pinguets had two daughters who did not express much interest in the family business.  So the property was sold to a Filipino-born fellow, Anthony Hwang.  Pinguet remains working at the domaine on a part-time basis and is under contract to remain in this position until 2015.

They have a sensible program to keep a large portion of the vines at least 30 years old, with about 35% of the property being, at least, mature and in the range of 10 to 30 years of age.  Fifteen percent of the estate is in recently-planted vineyards.  

The vineyards are all hand-harvested, a bit of a rarity in Vouvray as most vines are not mechanically harvested.  They've embraced biodynamic vineyard cultivation, though were spooked in the Spring of 2008 and sprayed something not approved to save the crop.  They've since returned to their normal, sensible, biodynamic practices.

We have Le Haut Lieu Sec in the shop from the 2010 harvest.  This is a marvelous dry white with some beautiful fruit and stony notes.  It's still young, but it has such character!  It can probably easily be cellared another 5 to 10 years and it will continue to grow.

Also in the shop if the 2008 Le Mont Demi-Sec.  Here's another youthful wine with a firm backbone and delightful balance.  It's mildly sweet, but not full-throttle sugary.  

Currently available:  2010 LE HAUT LIEU SEC Sold Out
2008 LE MONT DEMI-SEC $39.99

CHAMPALOU

Didier and Catherine Champalou embarked on their wine-making adventure in 1983 when they planted their first Chenin Blanc vines in the Vouvray appellation...all of one half of a hectare!  Today they farm 21 hectares of vineyards splashed across the appellation.

The winery has grown and so have their kids, as the two Champalou daughters are now working in the wine biz, one in Vouvray with Mom and Dad, the other in Great Britain.

We're fans of their basic Vouvray...while many wines of this appellation have a decidedly mushroomy character, the Champalou wine is bright, nicely appley and fruity in terms of aromas and flavors, with tangy acidity giving the wine a fairly dry finish.

We like this wine for its zesty character and 'clean' fragrances and flavors...Very bright and youthful.

Currently in stock:  2012 CHAMPALOU Vouvray $17.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE LOIRE VALLEY WINES

 

 

winepour.gif (12696 bytes)Wine Tasting Today

TO INQUIRE ABOUT A WINE:  
Copyright © 1999 WEIMAX October 25,  2014